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1876 - 1955: Colonial Revival House Styles

Nostalgic Homes for a New Century

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Expressing American patriotism and a return to classical architectural styles, Colonial Revival became a standard style in the 20th century.
Colonial Revival houses romanticized North America's colonial past.

Builders in the late 1800s and early 1900s romanticized colonial architecture.

Photo © Jackie Craven

Colonial Revival houses have many of these features:

  • Symmetrical façade
  • Rectangular
  • 2 to 3 stories
  • Brick or wood siding
  • Simple, classical detailing
  • Gable roof
  • Pillars and columns
  • Multi-pane, double-hung windows with shutters
  • Dormers
  • Temple-like entrance: porticos topped by pediment
  • Paneled doors with sidelights and topped with rectangular transoms or fanlights
  • Center entry-hall floor plan
  • Living areas on the first floor and bedrooms on the upper floors
  • Fireplaces

About the Colonial Revival Style

Colonial Revival became a popular American house style after it appeared at the 1876 the US Centennial Exposition. Reflecting American patriotism and a desire for simplicity, the Colonial Revival house style remained popular until the mid-1950's. Between World War I and II, Colonial Revival was the most popular historic revival house style in the United States.

Some architectural historians say that Colonial Revival is a Victorian style; others believe that the Colonial Revival style marked the end of the Victorian period in architecture. The Colonial Revival style is based loosely on Federal and Georgian house styles, and a clear reaction against excessively elaborate Victorian Queen Anne architecture. Eventually, the simple, symmetrical Colonial Revival style became incorporated into the Foursquare and Bungalow house styles of the early 20th century.

Subtypes of the Colonial Revival House Style

  • Dutch Colonial
    Two-story house made of clapboard or shingles with a gambrel roof, flared eaves, and a side-entry floor plan.
  • Garrison Colonial
    The second story protrudes; the first story is slightly recessed.
  • Saltbox Colonial
    Like the original saltbox homes from colonial times, a Saltbox Style Colonial Revival has two stories at the front and one story at the rear. The gable roof covers both levels, sloping sharply down in the rear.
  • Spanish Colonial Revival
    Low-pitched ceramic tile roof, stucco walls, eaves with little or no overhang, wrought iron, and windows and doorways with round arches.
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